The Raveonettes: Pe’ahi

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The Raveonettes
Pe’ahi
(Beat Dies/The Orchard)
3.5 out of 5 stars

“Crank the distortion,” isn’t a direction you’d likely hear in most recording studio situations, but along with “make it sound like a record being played with a worn stylus” that seems to be what was expressed when the Raveonettes recorded this, the duo’s eighth album in just over a decade.

Those familiar with the band’s established reverb heavy approach will find this to be another impressive entry into their catalog. But the album, named after a local on the Hawaiian island of Maui known for its intense surf and sketchy, often drug addled visitors, is a slight departure. These songs don’t follow established structures and the duo pushes outside of their already idiosyncratic sandbox to include such non-rock instruments as harp, backing choirs and orchestral touches.

Singer Sharon Foo’s ghostly, ice-princess vocals are immediately distinguishable above the often over-driven fray, balancing innocence and danger in equal doses. But it’s her talented partner Sune Rose Wagner who is primarily responsible for this intense mash-up of the Jesus and Mary Chain, Siouxie and the Banshees, Phil Spector, the Beach Boys and the Kills. Each track is a multi-layered gem, making this a prime candidate for headphone, lights low listening to catch the intricacies inserted into the overall widescreen vibe.

The upbeat, near Latin styled opening “Endless Sleeper” captures the overall mood in its evocative title, tempo changes and Foo’s velvet switchblade vocals. Other tracks such as “Summer Ends,” “Killer in the Streets” and “The Rains of May” imply the dark, often ominous implications at work throughout this uncompromising, 35 minute opus. The contrast of light and dark has always driven the Raveonettes’ music, but it’s especially effective on this beautifully realized collection that shows the couple to have plenty of tricks left in their already unique and compelling sonic bag.